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June 6, 1996

Feeling Your Pain

Dear Neighbors:

It’s not easy being a councilmember from Ward 3 who happens to be white. Last month, Kathy Patterson was verbally beaten up by some of her colleagues (Harry Thomas, Hilda Mason, and Linda Cropp) for introducing legislation that would allow the city to layoff teachers according to criteria other than how many cobwebs were attached to their bodies. (Without the legislation, the ones with the most cobwebs would stay.) They claimed Patterson's legislation was racist. John Ray, bless his heart, had to step in to calm the fray.

That old racist (please note sarcasm) Kathy Patterson is up to it again. In the current budget negotiations, she is moving to block the mayor’s proposed $4.1 million increase for parks and recreation. The mayor has not explained how the money would be spent. And the funding has the odorous smell of a slush fund. Meanwhile, Patterson unsuccessfully moved to reallocate $1.4 million to Metro so that bus routes would not be eliminated. She also failed to persuade her colleagues to spend $11,000 to pay back dues to the Dulles and National Airport Noise Abatement Committee. (The District has stiffed the council for years.)

Mayor (If you are not with me, you are a Nazi) Barry sent Patterson a letter that accused her of not getting with the mayor’s program of slush-funding for his core constituency (fair enough) but also accused her of being "Clintonless"—she can’t feel the pain. To wit: "You may not feel the pain of a lack of recreational opportunities for the youth in Ward Three, but I assure you that every swimming pool, every tennis court…yada, yada, yada…is extremely valuable for the young people and their parents in the other seven wards of the city."

So, like seniors across the city don’t feel the pain when the bus routes are shut down? Children don’t feel the pain when the boilers break in school? It’s not like Patterson wanted to reallocate the money for a Ward Three slush fund. Maybe Vernon Hawkins after retirement will wind up in charge of one of these private recreational programs. Then we can count on one thing for sure—the swings won’t have seats and the merry-go-round won’t be merry or go ‘round.

Remember: Electric Backfence Party on Monday, 7:30 p.m., at Pizzeria Uno in Cleveland Park. Free.


Jeffrey Itell


Mayor and Control Board

As far as the city's crisis goes, from Barry's tooth and nail reaction, it is obvious that the Control Board has hit the nail on the head. Who would run for mayor? Do we really need one, or would we be better off with a professional city manager? When we had Mayor Washington, we had a deputy mayor who served as city manager (Tom Fletcher) and kept the city running during the civil rights and Vietnam war protests without much of a hitch. I went to school with his kids, and remember him boasting about renting large numbers of portapotties.

Dianne Rhodes drhodes@fenix2.DOL-ESA.GOV


Gotta love the Mayor. He's an 'honest politician'. And as we all know, 'an honest politician is one that _stays_ bought. In his impassioned speech yesterday, His Honor Mayor Barry declared that he was going to fight the Control Board all on the way on the issue of discharging long-time associate Vernon E. Hawkins, head of the District's Human Services Department.

"This is... absolutely ant-democratic, anti-American, un-American..." The Mayor went on to compare the situation to Nazi Germany and the abrogation of human rights by the fascist regime. He also had the audacity to say that this is not about Mr. Hawkins, but that it was about 'due process'.

Mr. Barry does seem to be very commendably loyal to his cronies, and this ploy of bringing up due-process is a commendable stratagem in the defense of a compadre. However, Mr. Barry does not seem to be to greatly concerned with the due-process rights of the people whose entitlements Mr. Hawkin's agency is supposed to oversee, protect and administer.

The performance of the DC Human Services Department is reputedly abysmal. I want to know... have people been getting the service that they deserve? It's one thing that those who have the capacity to earn a taxable income must be taxed to support those who cannot ear a taxable income; I've been on both sides of the situation and cannot fault the basic idea. But for those who feel that this taxation is an imposition, an injury or an injustice, how can Mayor Barry defend a system widely seen as one of the city's most wasteful (because of the incompetence and waste, to say nothing of rumored outright fraud and diversion of funds), adding insult of wasting these taxes to the definite injury of those whose checks are late, those who cannot get the services they _require_ such as payments for rent, their children’s food, needed medical supplies, access to clinics and all of the other services which are supposed to make our American society more grand than any other? Well, the US is far down on the list of nations that take good care of their poor and unfortunate, and among US cities, the District (which should be a shining beacon of hope) is far down the list.

Add this to the mismanagement of the Barry-supported woes of JMC Associates, (now under investigation by Federal auditors for their misappropriation of Social Security checks sent to them in cause of guardianship of mentally-ill persons incompetent to manage their money) and the picture that emerges is that of a well-greased political machine propping up supporters and friends, enriching the long-time associates of the honorable mayor, while abrogating the rights of those most defenseless of our society, the mentally-ill, incompetent, and impoverished. Where's the due-process there, Mr. Mayor? The well-greased political machine appears to be greased with snake-oil.

And while on the subject of snake-oil, across town, one Reverend Willie Wilson (of the Mayor's church) gave a reportedly stirring "declaration of war" on the Control Board, calling Board Chairman Andrew Brimmer a 'handkerchief-head', which is pretty strong words. Evidently the Reverend seems to think that it's more important to Home Rule that the government be top-heavy and ignore the needs of those most desperate in the city, and I guess he places that at a higher status than he does Christ's commands to minister to the children and to the poor. What are his priorities?

Hats off to the Control Board for taking this action, and Mr. Mayor, this ain't about due-process for the citizens you claim to represent, this is about Marion Barry's ego. If due-process is at all a consideration, consider due-process for your constituents, not for your political machine. There's sand in the works of your political machine, and all of the snake-oil you can pack into the gears ain't doing a thing to ease the grinding of the parts or the pain of the little people who are getting ground up in those gears. No amount of words can ease the suffering of your constituents who aren't getting the services they so desperately need because your associates are busy lining each others pockets and covering it up under the guise of incompetence... if that's the case... if they really are that incompetent, that's even worse.

And as for the rabble-rousers, be they the whisperers on the subway or your buddies on the pulpit, the rabble-rousers have to know that nobody will or can benefit by the destruction of the District. If someone wants to raise the pot to boiling as a preparation for a power grab, remember always that the Federal Government is not required to be in the District. The greatest suffering will be for those people who elected you; now do them right instead of leading them onto a warpath of destruction and wasted humanity.

If you can't lead, step aside for someone who can. Please stop fighting Mr. Brimmer. In the meantime, while he might seem a bit high-handed to you, he's (in my opinion, and that of Congress) only got the best interest of the citizens of the District in mind.




Last night I attended a meeting of the Sedgwick Gardens (3726 Conn Ave.) Tenants Association where one of the members mentioned her disgust at the recent appearance of swastikas painted with a day-glow orange along Connecticut Ave. between the library and the Intelstat complex. I realized that I too have seen these and do not feel comfortable living in an area decorated in such an offensive manner. It is entirely possible that these are the work of some kids who know nothing of their meaning or the agony and revulsion they represent for so many, but even if that is the case we have decided to do something about it. Because we understand that painting the swastika may be considered a hate crime, we are presently reporting them to the authorities.

During a walk down the three blocks on 6/5/96 we saw seven painted on trash cans, a tree stump, and newsstands so today, 6/6, we will report them. We will then begin to rub them out or cover them and encourage others to do the same. Sure, it's a small gesture that may not seem real important considering all the other problems that this city faces on a daily basis. But it is a step that vigilant people should take to prevent the neighborhood (and more importantly the perpetrators) from thinking that painting swastikas is an acceptable way to rebel against ...anything. Maybe it will also make those who, like the mayor, think that Nazis and the ideas they represent, should be invoked to describe anything they disagree with and cause them to think hard before they frivolously spew those awful symbols in public.

David Goldstein


Woodley Park

I notice that some who live in the Woodley area are concerned about the Boston University students moving in to the newly-renovated building in the 2800 block of Connecticut Ave. I hope to ease your concerns, and I can probably answer most of your questions.

I am a BU alum, and in addition to working on Capitol Hill full-time, I work with the BU Washington internship program. My wife and I live in the Connecticut Ave. building, along with half-a-dozen other BU alumni who act as "resident assistants." All of the RA's work on Capitol Hill or downtown, and have themselves taken part in the program. We have a resident assistant on each floor, and there is a building manager (also a BU alum) who oversees the entire housing situation.

The students who live in the building -- some of whom are from Boston University, and others from other institutions such as Dartmouth and Penn -- work full-time during the day and take classes at night. For the most part, the students are kept pretty busy with the demands of holding down a 40-hour-a-week internship in addition to their studies. More often than not, the students are too tired to cause too much of a problem.

We had practically no complaints in the three years that I have been with the program. We keep a watchful eye on them. Any questions, you can e-mail me.

Derek Lick


Merchant News

When I was a kid we always used to go to Grandma's house on Sunday night for dinner. I guess all the Spring Valley types with little tikes in tow have shipped their parents to Florida because they were crammed into the new Chicken Out last Sunday. The line literally went out the door and into the parking area and people were waiting for their orders to be called in what looked like a busy doctor's waiting room. Wow, what a pot of gold for the owner. Good job Spring Valley Residents in forcing the management to use real plates and silverware, It was really heartening to see in what otherwise would have become a major trash problem. By the way try their great mashed potatoes.


Dairy Queen Alert: One spotted off New Hampshire Avenue and East West Highway (Philadelphia Avenue) in Takoma Park, right close to District line.

Jeff Krulik


Does anyone know what the result of the construction at the corner of Wisconsin and Warren St., NW will be?

Rhonda Oziel


I was Fresh Fields last week for a snack. When I finished, I looked for a place to recycle my drink's glass bottle. There isn't one. I ask at the counter, and was told they didn't have room! I asked them to consider it and to see if there commercial recycling plan to the DC gov mentioned their food service. Sure. If you're in FF, you might ask about this. A company that markets its environmentalism might buy a couple of waste cans, etc.

Carl Bergman



Coinciding with the opening of the diner at Morrison and Connecticut Ave. Some 6 years ago, a mature city tree perhaps 20 ft. tall was found cut down and left in three pieces at the curb one night in front of Riggs Bank. I have spoken with a number of business people along Conn. Ave. between Morrison and Livingston. There is widespread suspicion concerning an individual who made remarks to the effect that the tree blocked the view of the diner to drivers coming north on Connecticut Ave. A large--$2,000 +?--amount was raised to replace the tree, but considerable time went by and a small one ($200?) was put in after some months. It promptly died. Now after several years, we're trying again. The tree massacre was reported in one of the local papers (Uptown Citizen?) but I can't locate the clip or date. The _Post_ did not report it, although the dead tree casts an eerie shadow on the reputation of a prominent citizen. I do not know whether the crime was ever investigated.

James Lieberman, M.D



If you truly care about the homeless and you realize that handing out cash doesn’t solve any problems I would recommend volunteering a few hours a month at Sheperds Table in Silver Spring (301-585-6463) TT: John Eckenrode -- They have a services center and soup kitchen -- or try CCNV in DC.

You wont be able to solve a lot of problems but you could be a small help and get a better understanding of the homeless situation- and meet some very interesting and eccentric people while you are at it.

Michael F. Mann


Amanda's response to Evan: Yes! Amanda acknowledges the humanity of the homeless person. It is also possible to give practical help other than money. Some organizations provide small cards with addresses and phone numbers where a homeless person can ask for help. I still have a good supply of such cards from the Samaritan Ministry of Greater Washington. The cards start with "If you want to set goals and take steps to a better life, call" and follow that with the phone numbers of the two SMGW centers. The reverse side of the card lists the numbers of several emergency hotline services. For information about the cards, you can call SMGW at 722-2280.

Bob's positives: I couldn't agree more. Yes, there are negatives. Yes, the city is in pain. But what of its incredible floral beauty through the spring, of its tree-lined streets when the leaves turn in autumn? The great art collections, fine restaurants, and what may just be one of the best libraries in the world? At this moment, through my open window, I hear birds, birds, birds. I think I'll stay.

Ellen Compton-Tejera


City Life

I - and I suspect that most subscribers to dc.story - agree with all the nice things Bob Doherty said about living in the District. And they were well said! I think the point of all the "negativism," however, is that nothing we say is going to make the trees "the Boss" planted in the 1870's any more beautiful, or the monuments any more majestic - what we are focused on are the problem areas which need attention and improvement. And DC has more than a few of those!

So please don't interpret my comments, or those by others, as simple whining or excessive negativism. The fact that my wife and I are still here I suspect speaks more to our view of DC than anything I could say or write.



Hampton Cross, head of the District's Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, will be appearing at ANC 3F on Monday, June 17. The meeting begins at 7:45 p.m. Mr. Cross should be on at 8 or shortly thereafter. We are meeting with Mr. Cross as part of an ongoing effort to investigate the impact of the City's fiscal crisis on the delivery of services to North Cleveland Park.

The ANC meets at the Capitol Memorial Church, 3150 Chesapeake Street, NW. For more info, call the ANC office at 362-6120.

Scott Strauss

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